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Rail News: Labor

Stillwater Central T&E workers say 'no' to joining BLET a second time


Second vote, same result at the Stillwater Central Railroad Co. (SLWC). Last month, the National Mediation Board (NMB) conducted a second representation election at the 275-mile short line to determine if train-and-engine service (T&E) workers wanted to join the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). A majority of the employees voted down the proposal.

In August 2005, a majority of workers elected not to join the BLET in the first representation vote. Afterwards, the union filed a protest with the NMB alleging SLWC interfered with the voting process by offering the T&E workers water, approving scheduled wage increases and making management changes prior to the election. The NMB then ordered the short line to conduct a second vote.

“The National Mediation Board agreed with us that there were some serious election intereference issues by the management of Stillwater Central,” says BLET spokesman John Bentley. “In spite of their illegal interference, the representation elections were closely contested races.”

Operating a line between Snyder and Sapulpa, Okla., and owned by the Watco Cos. Inc., SLWC interchanges with BNSF Railway Co., Union Pacific Railroad and Grainbelt Corp.

“We feel vindicated based on the fact that we knew our previous actions were both fair and in the best interests of our team members and customers,” said Watco Chief Operating Officer-Central Region Pat Cedeno in a prepared statement.